The older I get– the more I find myself a creature of habit. I wake up, I work, I spend time with my family, and I go to sleep. Each year passes more swiftly than the last. My body ages more quickly than my spirit matures. All too often it feels like I am on autopilot, going through my days with reaction not intention.
In the same way, the older I get– the more “past” and the more “future” I carry with me. The “past” has many names: memory, home, regret, missed, forgotten, I did, I didn’t, did I? Didn’t I?. The “future’s” names I know almost as well: wish, dream, danger, promise, anxiety, fear, should, I will, I won’t, I must, I must not, maybe. Unexpectedly, the past and the future have become my friends. I know them, I’ve nourished them, I’ve courted them. And these constant companions crowd out my present.
Each day, I am faced with choices about how to live, how to love, how to parent, how to work, how to succeed, how to fail, how to forgive, how to be forgiven. In those many moments, I am tempted to let my habits, or my perspectives of the past and the future speak for me. They whisper in my ear, “let us decide for you, we’ll take good care of you.” During those moments, I may think that I’m in my living room with my kids, or at a meeting with my boss, or unable to sleep in the dead of night…
I may think I am, but I’m not.
I’m actually standing in a garden with a man, and a woman, and a snake, and a tree. The sky is a cloudless blue, and the sun is radiant, the fruit is there before me, and it looks just about perfect and The Father’s voice moves the leaves of that Sacred Tree like a breeze, and He says to me, simply, “Will you trust me?”
One of the great joys of having kids is praying together. Before nap-time, we pray the At Noon Daily Devotional for Families and Individuals from the Book of Common Prayer. The Devotional’s reading from Isaiah articulates best the freedom God gives me in prayer:
O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength.
Prayer makes me pause. Prayer gives that moment for God to nudge me to come to myself.
When I am a man who prays, I have clarity. In prayer, God pulls me from yesterday and tomorrow into the present. In prayer, God frees me from the easy to choose the good. I can say no to the fruit, and trust that the food The Father provides thereafter will not only nourish and satisfy but will give the real life for which I hope.